Transit challenges are everywhere

August 24, 2018   ·   0 Comments

IN ORANGEVILLE, the current public transit challenge involves finding the appropriate location for a “transit hub.”

The town council has narrowly approved the idea of locating it on Centre Street, but one of the challenges that poses lies in the fact the property required is on County-owned land, part of the Edelbrock Centre.

To us, a more serious problem for that site is that it’s just a few feet away from a section of Centre Street that has been seriously flooded twice in recent history, thanks in large part to the lack of a bridge over Mill Creek similar to the ones on Dawson Road and Bythia, John, Mill and Wellington Streets.

Eventually, a preferable site would be the current location of the town’s fire hall, which undoubtedly will be replaced in a few years.

However, we think the best possible location in the long run would be the currently disused train station, which hopefully will soon return to its use as the northern terminus of the Credit Valley Explorer tour train as well as the terminus of a GO Train service.

Granted, that would require some major changes to the current Orangeville Transit routes, which all seem to wander aimlessly through town.

In our view, the transit system should have no more than two such wandering routes, with the two main routes being one on Broadway that would run as far east as the Second Line of Mono and west to Riddell Road, and a north-south route from Mono Plaza to the train station loop. But that, of course, would require a contribution from the benefiting Town of Mono.

Elsewhere in Dufferin, there is a substantial and growing need for public transit in both Shelburne and Grand Valley, where new subdivisions have left thousands of residents living beyond reasonable walking distances to the downtown shopping districts. And unlike Orangeville, neither town has any current GO Transit service and Shelburne lacks even an intercity bus line like the Can-Ar Coach Service that passes to the south along County 109 going between Kincardine and Toronto.

There must be some irony in the fact that so much attention is being paid to the need for more subways in Toronto, where property taxes are half those anywhere else in the province, and so little to the disappearance of all forms of public transit in other parts of Ontario.

In Shelburne 50 years ago, the village of 1,200 souls had four passenger trains and four Gray Coach buses every day. Now, with a population soon approaching 10,000, there is nothing.

Is it too much to hope that this part of Southern Ontario, which continues to be so loyal to Conservative parties (federally and provincially) will finally get the promise of GO Transit services, both bus and rail?

As we see it, all levels of government in Canada are failing to address the need for improved public transportation services.

At the federal level, we need more than the long-talked-of high speed trains on the Toronto-Montreal corridor. We also need a complete overhaul of Via Rail, with the re-introduction of daily transcontinental passenger service and at least some of the trains following the scenic CP Rail route around Lake Superior rather than the CN line through the dull northern woodlands.

And, when you think of it, is there any good reason why Via Rail and GO Transit shouldn’t co-operate in restoring passenger service to the few remaining rail lines in Southern Ontario, such as those to Goderich, Orangeville and Peterborough?

What’s really needed is a deal between Via and GO that would see equipment similar to that being used for the Union-Pearson express for daily passenger service beyond the current GO train routes. The cost involved would be tiny by comparison with either subways or double-decker trains, and would present an attractive alternative for commuters now dealing with gridlock in the GTA.


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